I’m a very process oriented person. I’m always looking for that tweak or flow that’s going to make things a little better each time I do something. When I began making hot sauce I took notes about the ingredients. I was interested in their freshness, their color and the way they interacted with each other and moved the dial on the flavor profile. I took measurements right down to the gram on weights so that I could repeat a recipe consistently. When I began to make hot sauce in batches larger than my stovetop I took notes on how to set up the ingredients for maximum speed of process, how long it took to hit temperatures and how to lay out the bottling line. I enjoy this type of work and I think it pays off in the end when you finally crack the code on making something like hot sauce, beer or a process to pass a Department of Agriculture inspection. And so it was when I hit on the OG Catalyst.
OG Catalyst was the first sauce that I really felt like I dialed in. Hence the name. It was my original spark. But getting there… In the beginning I tried all sorts of things to see what worked and what didn’t. Yes, I took notes. I had sweet tangerine peel in one batch and ground or powdered ginger in another batch – the note there said plainly, “this sucks!” I was fermenting the peppers and garlic together and testing different fermentation lengths. I always kept everything warm but ambient. I remember trying to use as little vinegar as possible in OG and hitting pH’s that were too high and wondering which method I should try to get them down. I remember everything being salty and worrying that they had to stay that way for the ferment. I remember the time I told someone that my hot sauce tastes different at different pH’s and they looked at me like I was alien.
In the end I slowly came around to my reality. Not only did I need to make a OG Catalyst smart flavorfully but also technically. I wanted ingredients that only had one ingredient. Sure, I eat hot sauces with xanthan gum, potassium sorbate and sodium bisulfite sometimes. But, I don’t make sauces with ingredients like that. I knew I had to build my sauce around fresh ingredients, not dried, and that these fresh ingredients had to be available. Try some powdered ginger up against fresh ginger sometime. It’ll blow your mind.
And so I found a mix of things like fresh squeezed OJ, raw ginger and a couple unique spices ground fresh that all came together and had a sum greater than the parts. I tried the sauce over different days and every time I found something a little different about it. Sometimes it had a clear mustard note, sometimes it left the aftertaste of a curry and sometimes it rang completely Asian with a heavy ginger punch. It was like a good book that each time you go back to you learn new things about the story or discover plots you missed the first time.
OG Catalyst is a golden yellow hot sauce with black peppercorn flecks and a pureed ginger mouthfeel. The aroma is bright ginger and crisp orange. The flavor opens with a flash of juicy acidity from the vinegar and orange before rushing into a wallop of fresh, unadulterated ginger. The middle is peppery and earthy putting a base down for the spices to mingle with and overlap the high notes. The finish lingers with a pungent ginger on the tongue and a slow purposeful wash of heat around the palette. OG Catalyst is great on most vegetable dishes and folds very well into rice or noodles. It works well with eggs, especially deviled, and as a marinade for chicken and tofu. I even like a dash or two in a traditional margarita.
I’d love to hear what you think?